Posted by: Ken Homer | June 8, 2008

Nobody Told Me There’d be Days Like These!

1980 seems so far away and still John Lennon’s words ring true.

What a week!

Barack Obama won enough delegates to claim the Democratic Nomination for the Presidency of the USA. A landmark victory in the long struggle for human dignity.

This milestone is inspiring millions of people with hope and demonstrating how far we have come in the last few decades in dealing with hatred and racial injustice in this country – not that we are homefree or anything yet – but it is cause for celebration, even if he’s not your candidate of choice.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, we have the ugly reminder of how far we have to go in dealing with the small-mindedness of petty tyrants. 

You’d think that delivering food and aid to people who have lost everything in a storm would be a no brainer. But apparently, the generals who rule Burma – which incidentally is tied with Somalia as the most corrupt government in the world – have their brains wired up a little differently.

This week, the ships laden with food, medicine and other supplies for the millions of people sick, starving and shelterless thanks the cyclone that struck Burma last month were turned away by the ruling military junta.

“We’ll take care of our own.” they said – “We don’t want any interference from outside.” And, despite our vaunted prestige as “the most powerful nation on Earth” all we can do is watch helplessly as the ships steam away – that is if we are watching at all.

An amazing juxtaposition of the old and new politics, of hope and despair and a stark reminder that their are those who care not for the consequences of the fires they start.

Is there not some other resolution to this quandary? Some way to pour upon the parched lips of the suffering the milk of human kindness?

How long until the realities of biology – that we are a single species, totally dependent on the health of the Earth’s ecosystems for our own individual health – replace the fantasies of ideology where men rule the world and can do whatever they wish with no regard for the consequences?

How long until the politics of hope ignites the hearts and fires the minds of all the people in this world who are longing to breathe free? How long until they move into coordinated and coherent action to take care of themselves, each other and the places in which they dwell?

If the current political barometer readings are any indication, perhaps, not as long as some people think… 

Strange days indeed!



  1. I’m going to wildly speculate. I’m not defending (of course), I’m bringing a hypothesis into the discussion of “what would make people do such a thing?”

    I have noticed that some people develop a sense that accepting help means they’ll owe someone, and that that’s a debt they can’t afford.

    It sounds like a strange analogy, but I think many people have that experience at a personal level. Some people feel it as trying to induce guilt; as though the other party were their mother who will eventually rail at them, “I gave birth to you, cooked and cleaned, and this is the thanks I get?!?”

    Not to make light of a life-and-death situation, but
    while corruption is corruption, I wonder to what extent poor countries are afraid of accepting help from the US specifically because we are one of the most powerful nations (for the next few years, anyway)?

    If we abandon the supplies nearby – just abandon them, they’d clearly go to waste if no one uses them – maybe that would allow others to use them without feeling indebted? It’s difficult to distribute, so maybe relying on their ingenuity to retrieve a resource and redistribute would make the deal seem more “even”?

  2. Thanks for this most interesting perspective.

    I agree that at both the personal and collective level there is often a reluctance to accept aid from those who appear more powerful.

    At same time, I would speculate that when the suffering is so great and the threat of death so persistent that if the people who need the aid were granted a voice they would be unanimous in accepting the offer.

    The idea of re-channeling the supplies to a country or group that could get them through is intriguing. From the little I know of Burma, it would extremely difficult to accomplish such a thing.

    If they were abandoned I am sure they would not go to waste, but rather to those in positions to scoop them up and use other channels to make them available – my guess is they’d quickly find their way onto the black market.

  3. i agree to!
    y is excepting so hard???
    a disaster is a disaster! people think if they ask for a little bit of help, then they owe the world every thing… well in some cases you really dont owe a dime. And those that cant and wont except aid form more powerfull people(or in this case countries) if u are in that much need of food and shelter and things in that nature, where you are fasing life and death. Why not take some one elsees help? some countries are here to help the needing and i believe that we are one of those countries. so i hope them people stick in there!

    thanks u all, ben

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